Professional Video Poker Players – Do They Exist?

Man Wearing Blue Shades With a Video Poker Background

Video poker is well known for providing one of the best opportunities to win among casino games. It features plenty of variation that delivers over 99% return to player (RTP).

Some variations even offer a chance to win long-term profits. Therefore, video poker seems like a legitimate route towards becoming a professional gambler.

Many people dream of making a living through gambling. But does video poker provide a realistic path towards this dream?

The following guide discusses everything that goes into beating this game. It also covers whether professional video poker players actually exist.

How Can Video Poker Be Beaten?

You can’t just start playing video poker for real money and expect to win profits. Instead, you have to learn the right variations.

Additionally, you must develop the skills to win on a consistent basis. You can read more on everything that goes into winning below.

Learn Which Games Offer +EV

Many video poker variations pay more than the average casino game. For example, 9/6 Jacks or Better delivers 99.54% RTP.

This 99.54% payback is outstanding when compared to the gaming world. However, it still doesn’t offer quite enough RTP to bring theoretical profits.

You absolutely must play games that offer positive-expected value (EV) if you want to earn guaranteed profits over time. That said, the first step involves figuring out which games deliver over 100% payback.

Here are some available variations that offer +EV:

  • Full-pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% RTP
  • 10/7 Double Bonus = 100.17%
  • 10/6 Double Double Bonus = 100.07%

Study Strategy for the Best Video Poker Games

Video poker is one of the toughest games in the casino. It requires you to know extensive strategy to achieve the top RTP on any given machine.

However, you can’t apply strategy from one game to another. Deuces Wild, for example, features different hands and payouts than Double Bonus.

Once you identify the +EV games, you must learn how to play them like an expert. Preferably, you’ll have access to a full-pay Deuces Wild machine and study this strategy exclusively. After all, it offers the highest payback.

Video Poker Royal Flush

A quick way to learn optimal play involves using a strategy chart. You can find these charts for certain games on the internet.

Video poker trainers also provide a nice way to work on your skills. They point out when you make mistakes while playing so that you can gradually illuminate any incorrect strategy decisions.

Find the +EV Machines

Unfortunately, video poker games that offer over 100% RTP aren’t available in every casino. In fact, they’re very rarely available.

You must do some research and find out where beatable games are. The best place to start this research is with Las Vegas casinos. Sin City easily offers the largest selection of video poker machines out of any gaming destination.

Obstacles to Beating Video Poker

Video poker offers lots of promise due to its +EV machines. No other casino game gives you a chance to win profits without having to be an advantage gambler or beat human opponents.

Nevertheless, you’ll face some major challenges when trying to make profits. Here are the biggest obstacles that you must overcome to win.

No Dollar Denomination Machines Available

When you have an advantage in any form of gambling, it pays to make the biggest bets that you’re comfortable with. This is why poker pros play higher stakes and sports gamblers place four- or five-figure wagers.

The same thought holds true for video poker.

You could earn more theoretical profits by playing higher coin denominations. The problem, though, is that no +EV video poker machine offers dollar coins. Instead, they all feature nickel or quarter denominations.

You can still make money on these games as long as you hold an advantage. You’re just not going to be as profitable due to the smaller wagers.

The most that you can bet is $1.25 per hand (five coins). In contrast, players in the past used to be able to wager $5 a hand.

Few +EV Games Left

The absolute biggest hit to video poker profitability these days is the lack of +EV machines. In fact, your only chances of finding a 100% RTP video poker machine is in Nevada. Of these, the majority of +EV games are in Vegas.

Compounding the problem is that hardly any casinos offer full-pay Deuces Wild. Instead, they just provide 10/7 Double bonus and 10/6 Double Double Bonus.

While these are fine games that deliver profits, they don’t quite offer the payout percentage that Deuces Wild does. Therefore, you may only be playing for spare change in the end.

Fast Play Rate & Sound Strategy Required

Video poker strategy is somewhat different than what’s needed to succeed in sports betting, poker, or card counting. Once you master the strategy, you don’t need to think much to make the correct decisions.

Nevertheless, video poker strategy is quite intense in the beginning. You must master countless situations regarding which cards to keep in the draw round.

Of course, this involved strategy might not be so bothersome if you had all day to think through choices. But every second that you’re not playing hands is costing you money with +EV games.

You need to play at a fast rate to maximize your advantage. However, playing 800 to 1,000 hands per hour gets tiring after a while.

What Kind of Profits Are Possible With Video Poker?

I’ve covered both the good and bad about playing video poker for profits. Now, it’s time to discuss what kind of money you can make with this game.

The first thing to think about before looking over some examples is which game you’re playing. 100.76% RTP makes a big difference over the course of a few hours versus 100.07% payback.

Secondly, you also need to consider how quickly you can play without making mistakes. The best video poker players log around 1,000 hands per hour without many blunders.

Finally, you won’t play every single round perfectly. You’ll make mistakes every now and then that could cost you money.

Now, here are some examples of what kind of profits you can expect for each type of +EV machine:

(Full-pay Deuces Wild)

  • You play 1,000 hands an hour.
  • You bet $1.25 per hand.
  • You hold a 0.76% advantage.
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.0076 = $9.50
  • Comp rate is 0.1%
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.001 = $1.25
  • 5 + 1.25 = 10.25
  • You’ll earn $10.25 per hour.

(10/7 Double Bonus)

  • You play 1,000 hands an hour.
  • You bet $1.25 per hand.
  • You hold a 0.17% advantage.
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.0017 = $2.13
  • Comp rate is 0.1%
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.001 = $1.25
  • 13 + 1.25 = 3.38
  • You’ll earn $3.38 per hour.

(10/6 Double Double Bonus)

  • You play 1,000 hands an hour.
  • You bet $1.25 per hand.
  • You hold a 0.07% advantage.
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.0007 = $0.88
  • Comp rate is 0.1%
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.001 = $1.25
  • 88 + 1.25 = 2.13
  • You’ll earn $2.13 per hour.

Is Anybody Really Making a Living Through This Game?

Video poker was once one of the best casino games for making profits. Up until the late 1990s, it offered two main factors that made it a very enticing game:

  • Dollar coin denominations
  • Draw Till U Win

As mentioned before, $1 coins let you further maximize your edge. When combining a dollar coin with full-pay Deuces Wild, you can earn serious money.

Here’s a look at how much you stand in to win in this situation:

  • You play 1,000 hands an hour.
  • You bet $5 per hand.
  • You hold a 0.76% advantage.
  • 1,000 x 5 x 0.0076 = $38
  • Comp rate is 0.1%
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.001 = $1.25
  • 38 + 1.25 = 39.25
  • You’ll earn $39.25 per hour.

Draw Till U Win never offered quarter denominations. However, you didn’t really need a dollar coin to capitalize with the 103.2% RTP.

Here are the kind of profits that you could expect from this game when it was available:

  • You play 1,000 hands an hour.
  • You bet $1.25 per hand.
  • You hold a 3.2% advantage.
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.032 = $40
  • Comp rate is 0.1%
  • 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.001 = $1.25
  • 40 + 1.25 = 41.25
  • You’ll earn $41.25 per hour.

The big problem is that Draw Till U Win and dollar Deuces Wild are long since gone. Casinos got rid of these games when advantage players started hitting them too hard.

The best opportunity available in video poker today is quarter Deuces Wild. But even a good player will only earn around $10 an hour with this game.

Vintage Video Poker Machine

If video poker pros exist in the gaming world today, they’re just scraping by. They’d be living 10-15 blocks away from the Vegas Strip and being as frugal as possible on $10 an hour.

Realistically speaking, no video poker pros exist today. Anybody who goes through all the work to become an expert will only enjoy a low-paying job at best.

Conclusion

Once upon a time, video poker could offer a professional gambler up to $40 an hour or even more. Unfortunately, those days have long since passed.

This game no longer offers the same profitability that it once did. But that’s not to say you can’t still enjoy video poker.

You don’t have to chase long-term profits just to win. You could hit a royal flush early on and walk out of the casino with 4,000 credits.

If you’re going to play casino games—most of which are negative expectation—then you can’t do much better than video poker. It gives you one of the best chances to win, regardless of if you’re dealing with positive- or negative-expectation situations.